SCHOOLS in the district are being encouraged to take part in a national cycling event starting in March.

Although the cycling season doesn’t get under way until the summer, Northumberland County Council is keen to get schools into the cycling spirit and take part in The Big Pedal 2019, which takes place between March 25 and April 5.

The event encourages pupils, parents and staff to make the journey to school, and calls on them to cycle, scoot or, for the first time this year, walk to school.

Journeys are logged on The Big Pedal website and are ranked daily against other schools in Northumberland and the UK.

The initiative is organised by national cycling charity Sustrans and supported by Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council. During last year’s event, more than a million journeys were logged nationally.

The theme for this year’s challenge focuses on health, and all schools entering the competition will receive a human body wall chart with curriculum-based fact cards as well as posters, top tips and daily classroom activities to stimulate their learning.

Northumberland county councillor for Hexham East Cath Homer, is also the authority’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure.

She said: “The Big Pedal event is a brilliant way to get children thinking about their physical health and wellbeing, and ditching the car to get to school is a great way to start.

“Not only is it good for the environment, but travelling actively to school results in healthier and fitter children, and we hope they will carry this habit in to their teens and adulthood.

Schools can join the scheme at and choose Northumberland as their region.